Public Bathing Chamber
Steam billows, shrouding the many glow-baskets that line the low, tunnel-filled walls or swing down over the variable heated pools of clean water; light dances, lithe and sharp, defining the racks of freshly washed clothes yet to dry, or the tangle of muddled bundles yet to be washed. Shadows play over the large cupboard that holds fresh towels of orange and black, and a variety of bathing items including a vast array of sea-sponges from pumice hard to gentle softness.
Resting on a stone bench is a bronze firelizard.
R'co is here.
Pool Inner Caverns
It isn't regular hours -- or at least not peak hours -- so the baths are relatively quiet. Not completely, though. There is the low sound of voices, occasionally punctuated by a squeak here, a squall there, and there are clothes -- messily folded -- abandoned beside a short stack of towels. /In/ the water, then, is where the voices originate from: Saji, with her hair messy down one side of her head, tiny dark-haired baby in tow. "Now, it ain't as awesome as swimming in th' basin, or out in the ocean, but for soakin' and a bit of a relax, y'can't beat th' baths at Ista," she tells him, despite the fact that he is pretty much just wide-eying at her and occasionally punctuating with a wave of a bitty fist or a squeep. "Tussdad'd rather we teach you an' your brothers to swim in here, rather than out there, but I think we got a few months yet before we got to worry about -that-, right baby?"
Bathing is still as much of an art to R'co as it ever was, which is why he enters the baths with his typical tote, stuffed with scented goodies. He's dressed in a casual vest and shorts combo with his towel slung over his shoulder, and he's about to start stripping off layers when he notices Siraji - and, of course, the tiny tot with her. "Saji." The soft greeting is accompanied by a nod and a smile as he meanders over to the bath she's in, peering down at the littlest Wherz. "How on /Pern/ did you manage to have another, so soon?"
The sound of her name is enough to catch and hold Saji's attention, and she hooks a grin up and over at R'co as he peers down. "R'co," is even, and she shifts the baby so that he's looking at the brownrider, too. Or -- in the brownrider's general direction, at least. "Pure unadulterated talent," she answers, hooking her finger into the curve of Aaren's palm and puppeting his hand up and down in a wave. "Managed not to burn the Weyr down while I was gone, I see."
"Wouldn't do now to burn down my home, would it?" R'co grins, wiggling his fingers back at the little one. "He -?" There's an uncertain pause as he tries to ascertain the baby's sex, during which he sits down on the edge of the pool and swings his bare feet into the water. "He's adorable." One manicured hand reaches out to oh-so-gently boop the tip of Aaren's nose, which leaves the brownrider smiling, if no-one else. "I've got some real soft talc right now up in my weyr - don't babies use that stuff? I'll give you some, if you'd like."
"He," Saji confirms, while Aaren goes cross-eyed trying to focus on the finger against his nose, then waves his free hand at it. "We're callin' him Aaren. S'better than Twattycakes II, which is apparently what he'd have been saddled with if his dad were in charge." She rolls her eyes, shakes her head, and blows out a breath as she adds, "I'm not even sure if I'm kidding -- an' shit, yeah. We go through it loads -- the twins have got the hang of walking, but we're still working on that whole not-shitting-themselves thing. Workin' /real/ hard, though." She eyes the brownrider, like she's sizing him up, then counter-offers: "You get me a line on a good batch of talc, an' I'll work it out in trade. How's your Dev set on straps?"
R'co fishes about in his bathing bag to pull out a little shaker of talc. A little is sprinkled over the back of his hand, which he then holds out for Siraji to have a sniff of. "Dev's pretty good for straps, to be honest. He's still in his first full-grown set, and they're holding up pretty good. This one's scented," the scent of the talc being mildly fruity, "but I've got some that's plain, whichever you'd like. I can make a custom scent, if you'd prefer. I'll trade you for sure, but I can't think of what I need..." His lips purse thoughtfully, and he shrugs one shoulder when he can't come up with anything. "Maybe an open-ended deal? When I think of something, I'll let you know?"
Siraji leans forward to sniff at R'co's hand, then nods; not bad, her expression says. "Plain'd probably be best. Don't know what ends up irritatin' little bitty bums, y'know? Tell you what -- you let me know about how much you think the talc'd be worth, an' we'll open-end trade for somethin' of fair value. Once," here her smile surfaces, hooks up sharp, "you've thought of somethin'. Camp's on the plateau, same as usual, an'," here, she slants a glance over at her clothes, where her caravan's knot is threaded through with a thin cord of leader-gold, "an' I think I can safely say we're open for trade. Come down an' take a look, see if there's anythin' you need." After a moment, she bounces the baby and adds, "Or want," although it's clear that the two actions are unconnected.
The glimpse of gold doesn't go unnoticed when R'co follow's Siraji's gaze. "You're in charge, are you? What about Murdan?" He washes the talc off his hands, then dries them on his shorts. "It's kinda nice to not want anything, for once. Though... do you think..." His gaze drops to his hand where it's resting lightly in his lap - fingernails are suddenly very interesting! Then he clears his throat, continuing without looking up - and with a rather hesitant note to his voice. "Do you think maybe... maybe someone would give me a music lesson? I'd like to, er, learn guitar, or something."
"Murdan's Murdan," is as much answer as it is a lack of one, "an' Wherz is more than just th' band, these days, so we're shakin' things up a bit. Seems t'be workin' out fine," and he will have to pry leadership out of her cold, dead hands if her expression is any indication. R'co isn't the only one who has come to the baths with accoutrements, although hers are far simpler; she reaches for a pot of soapsand (though finer than her usual, in deference to soft baby skin), and sets to work finally /washing/ the baby, who squeaks in indignant protest. "Music lessons, huh?" she asks R'co, though the absent note in her voice is probably related to the concentration-furrow of her brown than the childwashing. "...nnh, no, that'd be a terrible idea," is under her breath, followed by, "could use-- no, that's shite too-- oh!" That, at least, is a pleased sound, and she looks back up at him, intent. "Yeah, I think we could manage that. You'll want to talk to Nys -- taller than me, blonde as you -- next time you come by the camp. Can get you set up."
"Nys." R'co commits the name to memory, watching Siraji and the little one. "Can I... can I help? With the baby? I've never washed one, or anything... I mean, he's just so /cute/, like... like so tiny and stuff." He shfts his weight a little where he's sitting on the edge of the pool, tilting his head slightly to one side as he looks at the family. "Have you tried using a soap bar on him? It's soft, and you can get some lovely... suds... here." One is fished out of his bag, and held out towards Saji. "It's my favourite, that one. All that's in it is mango and jasmine, and it's great for sensitive skin."
"Her mom's a Harper up at -- Herder hall? Some shit like that. Mostly does instrument craft an' repair, but she knows th' basics, an' is a damn sight more tolerant a teacher than anyone else I can name, Faranth help us." Her affection for the caravan's musicians is obvious -- as is her exasperation. Saji frowns up at R'co for his question, but after a long moment's careful consideration, she says, "Yeah, sure, th' fuck not -- might want to get in, or your shit'll end up wet an' I can't guarantee he won't end up takin' a leak on you. Takes after his dads." Even though it's phrased as a suggestion, it's clear that she expects him to fall into line, and end up in the water. But she takes the soap bar, and experimentally rubs the edge of the end against Aaren's shoulder.
R'co pulls his vest off over his head, but keeps his shorts on; while he's never been exactly shy about stripping down, the awkward way in which he approaches once he's in the water suggests he's trying to be, well, /appropriate/. His blue eyes are wide when he's close, and he's hesitant, biting down on his lip somewhat nervously. "He's so small." Experimentally, R'co touches the little one's cheek, almost like a tiny fingertip stroke along his soft skin. "How do I, um... I mean, what do I do?"
Siraji nods approvingly once R'co's in the water, then says, "Here, you hold your arms like this--" and starts arranging the brownrider's limbs. "He's not as squirmy as the other two were, but 's far as I can tell, he ain't a fan of this whole being washed shit. Gitcher arm up under his head, and," she transfers him deftly, with a little ta-da flourish of her fingers as he flails his little arms at R'co's fingers. "He's a bitty thing," she says, fond and oddly quiet, but brusques back up over, "but we're aimin' to fix that, ain't we, Aaren? Mostly now you just keep his head up above the water, an' wash careful."
R'co is holding a baby... and he looks half-terrified, while the rest of him is a jumble of awe and holy shit. "He's warm," he finally manages to say, giving the tiniest readjustment to the hold he's got on him, to make things a tad more comfortable. "He's /so/ warm." When he's sure he's not going to break the baby by moving, the brownrider gently strokes his fingers over the tot's tummy, then then across his cheek again. "And /tiny/. So tiny." He turns a big, somewhat soppy smile to Saji. "What do I do?"
"He is," Saji admits, crinkling her nose in an obvious attempt not to laugh. "I'm pretty sure they're only that shardin' cute to keep you from throttling them in their sleep once they start to teeth-- um, here," she moves in close again, adjusts R'co's hold on Aaren so that the brownrider has him more secure, and a hand definitely free. "You take the soap, an' you wash the baby, an' then you rinse the soap /off/ the baby--" Meanwhile, Aaren squeaker-squeaks his general discontent with being wet (though it is relatively mild). Squeaker-squeep. "If he gets cold, you can tuck him closer up against you. Might start rootin' around lookin' for a tit, though-- I'll take 'm back if he does."
"He might /what/?!" R'co blinks, looking suddenly a little, well, /freaked out/ by the little thing in his arms. But, he takes the soap to the baby's skin anyway, tentatively rubbing it along his arm with a touch that's probably verging on too gentle, in case he breaks something. "Why does he make that noise? How do you know he's cold?" The bar of soap is drawn along Aaren's arm again, over the exact same spot that's already been washed, and R'co attempts to work up a little lather this time. "Do you think he likes me?"
"He's only about three months old," despite being tiny for his age, Saji seems firm on this fact, "which means he's still not entirely clear on where titbreakfast comes from-- does it to his dad all the shardin' time. Ends up with that," she gestures at R'co's face, "same look on his face, if 'e ain't careful. Y'won't break him." Possibly she has gotten used to assuring that, too. "If he gets cold, he'll get a little shivery and squirmy." Aaren continues to squeaker-squawk, little eh-eh-eh and muh! noises as he gets soaped up. "The don't mostly like baths, really. Well, the twins do, now, but mostly they like fucking around and splashing. I don't think he -dis-likes you?"
"How do you /know/ all of that?" R'co is utterly in awe as he continues to soap, lather, rinse, repeat with little Aaren. Every movement he makes it tentative, though there's a tiny hint of confidence as he doesn't seem to be doing any real harm. The look of deep concentration on his face even eases up somewhat as a grin begins to take the place of his frown, and he dots some bubble foam on the end of the baby's nose before wiping it off. "I think I'd like one. They're quite cute really, aren't they?"
"Practice," Saji admits, nodding approvingly as R'co gets more confident with his washing. "An' a lot of fucking it up, probably -- we've doubtless scarred th' twins for life, at this point." At not-quite two, this is highly unlikely. But it still sounds good. "They're adorable little shits -- but they don't stay tiny for long. I'll sic Tussin an' Miraj on you when you come by to talk shop with Nys, an' you can see if you're still sayin' that once the little assholes can walk an' talk." /She/ is, obviously. True to her warnings, once Aaren has been thoroughly washed he starts turning in toward R'co, making slightly more urgent ehs and working his little mouth. "...aaaaand there he goes," Saji seems unsurprised by this turn of events, and reaches to relieve R'co of the baby. "Aiight, baby, hold your runners--"
"It can't be too much different to looking after a dragon? Except for when they're up and walking, maybe... maybe then they'd be more trouble. Dev was pretty good, for the most part." R'co happily hands Aaren over, then stands with his arms crossed over his chest. "Can't he tell the difference between a guy's chest, and a girl's? I mean, yours is... well, /y'know/..." Round, as he describes with his hands. "If he's hungry I'll, er, I'll give you some, um... privacy?" He backs up and hauls himself up onto the edge of the bath, sitting beside his bathing bag. "Nys, right? And she'll be there any time I can pop by?"
"I think it's more, uh, instinct than looks," Saji admits, "he's all snug an' close an' /obviously/ that means there should be food if he goes lookin' for it, right?" She sounds less sure on this fact, but also like she's had this conversation more than once. "You go on an' wash up," isn't a request for privacy so much as it is a polite dismissal, because she's already making sure there isn't any unfortunate soap residue, and popping Aaren on with a little bit of fussing. "Anytime -- if you want to be sure first, you can always have a note, or have your Dev drop me a line, aiight?" It still sounds an awful lot like a dismissal. She probably needs to work on that.
R'co couldn't be happier for a dismissal, because he's trying very hard not to flush vermillion at the sight of the hungry baby... which he sort of can't avert his eyes from, train wreck-style. "I'll go wash up then, and... yes. Yeah, Dev or one've my girls'll... a note. Sure." He scrabbles to his feet, nodding his head as he keeps his gaze fixed firmly on his bathing bag, and on retrieving his vest top. "See you later, Saji... Aaren. Thanks for letting me hold him." Off he pitter-patters, trailing wet footprints along to the bath furthest away from the mum and her tot.